Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Cube Trilogy

I’ve always been curious about the movie Cube (1997). My RP group designed some events around it, it’s noted as being an impressive B cult film, and pretty much everyone I know that’s seen it has enjoyed it.

As with most cinematic black holes, though, once you go a certain amount of time without watching something it gets more difficult to find the time. New movies come out, work takes over, family life expands, and movies that people swear you should have seen forever ago just slip through the cracks.

The other day, my little one decided she was going to have a sleepy day and I decided it gave me enough time to watch the entire Cube trilogy. So, I did. I watched all three movies, back-to-back. First Cube, then Cube²: Hypercube (2002), and finally, Cube┬║: Cube Zero (2004).

Let me start with the series as a whole.

A lot of questions don’t really get answered. In a trilogy like this, I would expect the final film – since it’s a prequel – to offer some kind of closure on why things are happening. You get a non-committal ‘who’ but no real ‘why’. That disappointed me. They did manage to bring things around so that the story made some manner of sense, but the fact that I got no real closure, kind of bothered me.

As for the individual movies, that was a bit more complicated.

I think Cube (the first one), is a brilliant example of a film that ‘doesn’t hold up’. You hear people use that saying a lot, but you really only see examples of it here and there.

For the most part, if you don’t mind ignoring technological changes, there are very few reasons for a movie to not hold up. Not taking CGI, or cinematography in general, into account, I believe the story itself doesn’t hold up. It’s a little boring and shallow – just a basic torture porn, only it doesn’t go as far as a lot of the other movies out there.

The thing is, I would put money on the belief that I would have loved Cube if I saw it when it first came out. It was B quality, but in a good way. It also would have been the first I’d seen of that kind of story and I would have been enthralled. Instead, the first film I saw with that same basic story was Saw (2004). I believe I still would have liked Saw if I’d seen Cube first… but going the other way around makes it feel like I have to compare the two, and I just prefer Saw.

The second movie, Cube²: Hypercube had a different problem. It took all the CGI it could and utilized it to make something ridiculously over worked that cheapened the plot. I was so distracted by the quantum bullshit that I forgot to care about the characters at all.

I didn’t mind the first movie, but the second one pushed my buttons and kind of annoyed me. The ending made it worth a watch, but just barely.

The third film was, by far, my favorite of the three. Cube┬║: Cube Zero made me think back to Cabin in the Woods (2012) and I had to admit that I saw how the entire Cube series could very well have influenced the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard creation. Instantly that endeared the third film to me because I LOVED Cabin in the Woods.

What the third film did right was to make me empathize with the antagonist – or at least a sub-set of the antagonists. It also brought more of the Cube world into focus by stepping slightly outside the cube.

With the way the third film circled around to set up the first, I found myself greatly appreciating that they’d made it a prequel. However, I think they could have gone further and explained more to the audience.

If I wasn’t left wanting, I’d be more likely to consider myself a member of the Cube cult. Unfortunately, watching the trilogy didn’t quite scratch the itch it caused.

It’s not a bad series, but not one I’m likely to be foaming at the mouth to watch again.

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